GRENOBLE – Roché, member of the French National Center for Scientific Research, the largest governmental research organisation in France and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe, is pessimistic.

Statements by the Paris public prosecutor, Rémy Heitz announcing that a judicial proccess has been opened in Paris in cases involving police officers during the Yellow Vest protests this winter, have not been welcomed by law enforcement. Police unions denounced these threats.

Roché (pictured), a professor at Sciences-Po Grenoble, CNRS research director and police specialist, told le Parisien that the management of the Yellow Vest crisis by the Ministry of the Interior and the judiciary is seriously lacking.

He noted the criticism against the lack of independence of the prosecutor’s office as well as the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN).

“The structural weaknesses of our legal-police system will be revealed: weak independence of the IGPN, ambiguous status of the prosecutor.” Both inspection bodies, the IGPN and the General Inspectorate of the National Gendarmerie (IGGN), report respectively to the Director General of the National Police (DGPN) and the Director General of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN), who themselves are under the authority of the Minister of the Interior.

“The Ministry of the Interior has been unable to put in place a reasoned policing policy. He has released all his equipment: helicopters, armored vehicles, defense ball launchers (LBD), grenades, policemen on motorbikes, bicycles, horseback, dogs … With, in addition, huge numbers [of police] never seen before in the streets. This mass has created disorganisation.”

The President of the Republic Emannuel Macron has maintained that there is no police violence in France because it is a democracy, says Roché. “For a political scientist, these statements are incomprehensible.”

“The memo of the Director General of the National Police, recalling the legal framework and the doctrine to the police, was issued in mid-January. (ER: the Yellow Vest demonstrations began on November 17th, 2018.) This could be interpreted by officials as a blank check,” says Roché.

Studies done by American researchers show that when there are deviant behaviors within a group, they have a contagion effect. Even after the DGPN’s note, the Interior Minister (pictured above) continued to turn a blind eye to the situation, suggesting that the Minister may have actually contributed to the violence.

“When I hear some unions asking for a special court to try police officers, it’s saddening. This is contrary to the very foundations of a democratic police. By asking for a special legal framework, trying to isolate themselves, how do they expect to renew the link between the population and politics?” Roché concluded.